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Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna

Background information
Born July 6, 1930 (1930-07-06) (age 79)
Origin Sankaraguptam, Andhra Pradesh, India
Genres Carnatic music
Occupations Classical Vocalist
Years active 1938 - present

Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna (Telugu: మంగళంపల్లి బాలమురళీకృష్ణ) About this sound pronunciation (born July 6, 1930) is a Carnatic vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and a playback singer. He is also acclaimed as a poet, composer and respected for his knowledge of Carnatic Music.


Early life and background

Balamuralikrishna was born in Sankaraguptam, Andhra Pradesh.[1] His father was a well known musician and could play the flute, violin and the veena and his mother was an excellent veena player. He lost his mother when he was just a baby and since then, he was taken care by his father. Observing his inner penchant towards music, his father put him under the tutelage of Sri Parumpalli Ramakrishna Pantulu. Sri Pantulu was a direct descendant of the sisya parampara of Saint Thyagaraja. Under the guidance of this great man, the gifted child had no difficulty in learning the divine music. Very soon he mastered the Carnatic Music. At a tender age of eight, the young genius gave his first full fledged concert at a Thyagaraja Aradhana, Vijayawada. Perhaps many people did not expect the meteoric rise of the child prodigy.

Musunuri Suryanarayana Murty Bhagavatar, a distinguished Harikatha performer, observing the musical genius in the child gave the prefix 'Bala' to the young Muralikrishna. This title has stuck to him ever since and is popularly known as Balamuralikrishna. Balamuralikrishna thus began his musical career at a very young age. By the age of fifteen he had mastered all the 72 melakartha ragas and had composed krithis in the same. The Janaka Raga Manjari was published in 1952 and recorded as Raagaanga Ravali in a nine-volume series by the Sangeeta Recording Company.This astonished many pundits of music and lyric.[2]

Balamuralikrishna soon became very famous as a singer. The number of concerts for this young musician began to increase and hence he had to discontinue his school.

Not merely content with his fame as a carnatic vocalist, very soon Balamurali proved his immense versatility by playing the kanjira, mridangam, viola and violin. He also accompanied various musicians in violin and is also noted to give solo viola concerts.

Performing career

BalamuraliKrishna started his career at a very young age. Till date, he has given over 25000 concerts worldwide![3][4]

His immense versatility in all the fields of music, his mesmerizing voice, his unique way of rendering the compositions helped him to carve out a niche in the Music era. He collaborated with the top musicians in the Hindustani circle and is known to be the first to start the jugulbandi type of concerts. The first of such kind was in Mumbai, where he accompanied with Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. He also gave jugalbandi concerts with Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and Kishori Amonkar, among others. These concerts made him popular throughout the country and also helped in national integration through music.

Poet composer and musicologist, Balamuralikrishna has restored the trinity's composition to their original whole. he represents a new era in Carnatic music. Like the galaxy of giants preceding him, he has helped in the preservation of the musical heritage in his own way. He is also known for popularising the Compositions of Sri Bhadrachala Ramadasa and Sri Annamacharya.



Balamuralikrishna during a concert in Kuwait on 29 March 2006, accompanied by Mavelikkara Sathees Chandran (violin), Perunna G. Harikumar (mridangom), Manjoor Unnikrishnan (ghatam)

Balamuralikrishna's concerts combine sophisticated vocal skills and rhythmic patterns of classical music with the popular demand for entertainment value.

Balamurali Krishna has been invited to give concerts in many countries, including USA, Canada, UK, Italy, France, Russia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Middle East and many more.

While his native tongue is Telugu, he sings not only in Telugu but also in many languages including Kannada, Sanskrit, Tamil, Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi.

He also enacted in the telugu movie "Bhakta Prahlada" under the banner of AVM Productions as Narada wherein, he sang his own songs. He also acted in a few more movies as well.

He appeared as featured soloist with an award-winning British choir, performing the "Gitanjali Suite" with words from Rabindranath Tagore's Nobel Prize-winning poetry and music by Dr. Joel, the noted UK-based Goan composer. His clear diction in several languages prompted an invitation to record Tagore's entire Rabindra Sangeet compositions in Bengali, preserving them for posterity. He has sung in French, and even ventured into jazz fusion, collaborating with the top Carnatic percussion teacher, Sri T.H. Subash Chandran, in a concert for Malaysian royalty.

He has recently become increasingly interested in music therapy, and now performs only occasionally. He gave its authorization to S. Ram Bharati to found "Academy of Performing Arts and Research" in Switzerland and is also working on music therapy. He established the 'MBK Trust' with the objective of developing art and culture and for carrying out extensive research into Music Therapy. A dance and music school, 'Vipanchee' is a part of this Trust and is run by his managing trustee Kalaimamani Saraswati.

Poet and Composer

Dr Balamuralikrishna has composed over 400 compositions in various languages like Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu. His compositions ranges from Devotional to Varnams, Kirthis, Javalis and Thillans. His greatest achievement are the compositions in all the fundamental 72 melakartha ragas.


Balamuralikrishna performs in 2005

Characteristic of Balamuralikrishna's musical journey has been his non-conformism, spirit of experimentation and boundless creativity.

Dr Balamuralikrishna has innovated the whole Carnatic Music System by keeping its rich tradition untouched. The ragas like Ganapathi, Sarvashri, Mahati, Lavangi etc are credited to him. The ragas which he invented represent his quest for new frontiers.

Ragas like Lavangi are set to three or four notes in ascending and descending scale.[2] . Ragaas created by him, like Mahathi, Lavangi, Sidhdhi, Sumukham have only Four Notes; While Ragaas created by him, like Sarva Sri, Omkaari, Ganapathy have only Three Notes .

He also innovated the tala system. He has incorporated "Gathi Bedam" in the "Sa Sabdha Kriya" ( Actions in Talas, which can produce sound/Sabdha are called Sa Sabdha Kriya )part of the existing Tala chain, thus throwing open a new chain of Tala System. Saint Arunagirinaadhar used to inject such systems in his famous Thirupugazh, but only as Sandham, while Balamuralikrishna is known to be the pioneer in bringing such Sandhams into a logical rhythm, with Angam & Definition. Thri Mukhi, Panchamukhi, Saptha Mukhi & Nava Mukhi are the Basic Classifications, he has named for his New Tala System.

When coming to his compositions, his Thillanas speaks of the glory. Balamuralikrishna is supposed to be the pioneer in injecting Sangathis in Thillanas too !

His emotional interpretation to the Thyagaraja Krithi Nagumomu has won him accolades and is liked by people even today.

Criticisms and Acceptation

Balamuralikrishna was criticized for his invention of new ragas. They were once regarded an act of sacrilege by the orthodox. But then, any serious appraisal of a contemporary work of art must be historically informed. Innovation of new ragas was the defining characteristic of the Thyagaraja legacy. The physicists M.V. Ramana and V.N. Muthukumar have thrown light on this aspect. According to them, the more than 700 Thyagaraja compositions available today are set in 212 ragas. Of them, 121 had but one composition and Thyagaraja was the first to compose kritis in 66 ragas. Significantly, the ragas Vivardhani and Navarasa Kannada - which are innovations by Thyagaraja - have just four notes on the ascent. They were the first of their kind in the 19th century. Arguably, Balamuralikrishna's own ragas merely take Thyagaraja's endeavour to its culmination. Ranjani, another Thyagaraja creation, boasts of over a hundred kritis today, including Balamuralikrishna's Vande Maataram, andee maa taram. [2]

Titles and Awards

The musical genius Dr Balamuralikrishna has won many awards and accolades to his credit. A few of them are : -

Sangeetha Kalanidhi ,Gaana kousthuba, Gaanakalabhooshana,Gaana gandrava,Gaayaka Sikamani, Gaayana Chakravarthy, Gaana Padmam,Nadajyothi,Sangeetha Kala Saraswathi [5] Nada Maharishi,Gandharva Gana Samrat, Jnanasagara, The Musician of the Century, to name a few. For the cause of National Integration, the Governor of Maharashtra honored him for services rendered.

He is the only Carnatic Musician to get three National awards as the Best Playback Singer, the Best Music Composer and the Best Music Director. He has been awarded the All India Radio's "Top Grade" for seven different performance areas.

Dr M Balamuralikrishna has made the National awards such as Padmashree, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan as his own. He is also the only carnatic musician to have won Chevaliers of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French Government.[6]

Apart from all these, he has won many honorary doctorates from various prestigious Universities.


Select compositions

Composition Ragam Type Remarks
Omkaara Pranava Shanmukhapriya Padha Varnam
Amma Aanandha dhaayini Gambhiranata Varnam
Ye Naadhamu Naata Varnam
Chalamu Chaesina Ramapriya Varnam
Aapaala Gopaalamu Amritavarshini Varnam
Ninu Nera Nammithi Kharaharapriya Varnam
Sri Sakala Ganadhipa Palayamam Aarabhi Kriti ? Three Pallavis on Ganapathy, Maaruthi and Krishna
Mahadevasutham Aarabhi Kriti on Ganapathy
Gam Gam Ganapathim Ganapathi Kriti on Ganapathi-Tri Tonal Raga: Sa Ga Pa
Ganaadhipam Nattai Kriti on Ganapathi
Pirai Aniyum Perumaan Hamsadhvani Kriti on Ganapathi
Uma Sutham Namaami Sarvasri Kriti on Ganapathi-Tri Tonal Raga: Sa Ma Pa
Mahaneeya Namasulivae Sumukham Kriti on Ganapathi-Tetra Tonal Raga: Sa Ri Ma Ni
Omkara karini Lavangi Kriti Tetra Tonal Raga: Sa Ri Ma Dha
Sidhdhi Naayakena Amritavarshini Kriti on Ganapathi
Sidhdhim Dhehi Mae Sidhdhi Kriti on Ganapathi-Tri Tonal Raga: Sa Ri Dha
Heera Ganapathiki Surati Kriti On Ganapathi
Mahaneeya Madhura Moorthae Mahathi Kriti Guru Vandhanam-Tetra Tonal Raga: Sa Ga PA Ni
Guruni Smarimpumo Hamsavinodhini Kriti Guru Vandhanam
Varuha Varuha Panthuvaraali Kriti on Muruha
Thunai Neeyae Charukesi Kriti on Muruha
Nee Dhaya Raadha Poorvikalyani Kriti on Ambika
Gathi Neevae Kalyani Kriti on Ambika
Siva Ganga Nagasvaravali Kriti on Ambika
Maa Maanini Thodi Kriti on Ambika-Swara Saahithyam
Amma Ninukori Kamas Kriti on Ambika
Gaana Maalinchi Kalyana Vasantham Kriti on Ambika
Sadhaa Thava Paadha Shanmukhapriya Kriti on Siva
Bruhadheeswara Kaanada Kriti on Tanjore Bruhadheeswara
Thripura Tharpa Mangalam on Siva
Kamala Dhalaayatha Bahudhari Kriti on Nethra Soundharya
Thillana Brundhaavani Thillana
Thillana Chakravaaham Thillana
Thillana Dhwijaawanthi Thillana Tamil Caranam
Thillana Kunthalvaraali Thillana Tamil and Telugu Charanam
Thillana Kathanakuthoohalam Thillana
Thillana Garudadhwani Thillana Paanini Sutra Reference,
Thillana Behag Thillana On Sri Thyagaraja
Thillana Raagamaalika Thillana Amruthavarshini, Mohanam, Kaanada and Hindolam
Thillana Raagamaalika Thillana Taaya Ragamaalika, Based on Sruthi Bedham
Thillana Raagamaalika Thillana Pancha "Priya" Raagas, with Gathi Bedham
Maamava Gaana Lola Rohini Kriti Ragam using two Madhyamas
Gaana Lola Raagamaalika Kriti On Thirupathi Venkateswara
Sangeethamae Kalyani Kriti About Music
Nee Saati Neevae Chandrika Kriti on Ranga,
Sankarabharana Sayanuda Sankarabharanam Kriti on Ranga
Vegamae Abhogi Kriti on Ranga
Hanuma Sarasangi Kriti on Hanuman
Vandhe Maatharam Ranjani Kriti on Bharatham
Gaana Sudha Rasa Naattai Kriti on Sri Thyagaraja
Sama Gana Amritavarshini Kriti on Sri Thyagaraja
Maragatha Simhasana Simhendra Madhyamam Kriti on Narasimha
Simha Rupa Dheva Kambhoji Kriti on Narasimha
Raja Raja Sankarabharanam Kriti on Sri Raghavendhra
Chintayami satatam Sri Muttuswami Dikshitam Sucharitra Kriti on Muttuswami Dikshitar
Ambamamava Raagamaalika Kriti


External links


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